This is Gymnocladus dioicus, the Kentucky coffeetree. There’s a line of them at the Piet Oudolf garden at the Hauser + Wirth Gallery in Somerset. Apparently they come into leaf late and drop their leaves early, so presumably Mr Oudolf chose them for their architectural quality. The seeds can be roasted to make a coffee substitute, apparently.
Much excitement has been surrounding Piet Oudolf’s new garden at the new Hauser + Wirth Gallery in Somerset. I was one of the people who was excited about it, so I was very pleased to get the chance to visit.
The gallery and restaurant is extremely swanky – some challenging art, neon lights spelling ‘Everything Will Be OK’ on one of the building walls, throbbing music in the exceedingly cool bar area and lots of trendy people. It’s what you’d expect to find in a capital city, which isn’t surprising as the other Hauser + Wirth galleries are in New York, London and Zurich. To be honest, it made me feel a bit uneasy – it just didn’t seem to sit comfortably in deepest Somerset.
As for the garden, there are some beautiful planting combinations (my favourite is below), and quite a few plants that I didn’t recognise, which is always interesting. The place was positively buzzing with bees and butterflies.
Interestingly, the non-gardeners in our group didn’t ‘get’ the garden at all. I tried to explain the naturalistic style, the planting in drifts, the fact that it’s all very new and will take a while to establish. But they still didn’t get it, or even like it very much. And I must admit it didn’t quite do it for me, either. Maybe it was the simple fact that the garden isn’t established – the perennials are dominating at the moment, and the grasses need to mature to give more structure. Or maybe it was the clock sculpture, which dominates somewhat (and ticks annoyingly). Maybe it was the bright green grass paths which look a bit odd, the lack of structure, or the lack of a sense of enclosure. I’ve been wowed by Piet Oudolf’s planting in the past, especially at Pensthorpe a few years ago, but this time I was surprised to find myself thinking that I’ve seen it all before.
My boyfriend has a deep love of castles. He reads books on them, and loves visiting them. Unfortunately there are hundreds of castles in the UK, and I can’t get very excited about moats, keeps or portcullises. But thankfully, many have gardens.
Farleigh Hungerford Castle is little more than a ruin, but it’s in a lovely setting on the Somerset/Wiltshire border and has a little garden. It’s looking pretty now, with lots of snowdrops and hellebores, and has various (neatly labelled) perennials that are peeping through. I liked the way the ivy had been trained against the wall.
This was my first ‘drive-by’ shot for this blog – I hopped out of the car, took a couple of pics, jumped back in and sped off. Which must have looked extremely suspicious.
Anyway, I took the pic not for the arch, which is rather lovely, but for the stone circle on the lawn. Fancy having that in your front garden! There are a lot of them in this area of Somerset (near Cheddar Gorge) but I’m not sure whether this one pre-dates the house or is a more recent addition to reflect the surrounding landscape. For all I know stone circles might be on sale in the local Homebase.